Out, pesky engram!

I think I made clear that Scientology is a wacked-out cult. The primary concern from my perspective as a doctor is their denialist position on psychiatric illness.

Given the toll mental illness takes on society, and the amount of influence exerted by Scientology, everyone should be shouting from the rooftops (in a perfectly calm and sane way), “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

The Church of Scientology has a little friend called the “Citizens Commission on Human Rights“. It’s motto is “investigating and exposing psychiatric human rights abuse”. Who is this “commission” and what is their beef?

A good place to start is on their info page. Hardly a paragraph goes by without a falsehood or logical fallacy.

First of all, I’ll skip the cute SciFi-ish adds on the margins of the page with headlines like “Psychiatry: Industry of Death.” Hyperbole of that degree should be, well, discouraged.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a non-profit, public benefit organization dedicated to investigating and exposing psychiatric violations of human rights. It also ensures that criminal acts within the psychiatric industry are reported to the proper authorities and acted upon.

It starts out as a simple statement of fact (non-profit, etc.), then, makes a subjective statement about their purpose which suffers from the logical fallacy of “begging the question“: it assumes that there exists significant psychiatric abuses and crimes. Nowhere on their site can I find actual evidence of widespread crimes by psychiatrists, nor do they link to any specific “report[s] to…proper authorities”. This paragraph may be a lie, or it may be making truthful claims without documentation.

CCHR was founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the internationally acclaimed author, Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York, Syracuse.

The Church of Scientology is a bizarre cult that believes human suffering originates in “engrams” implanted on Earth by an evil galactic overlord named Xenu, so that pretty much eliminates any credibility this organization might have. Then they use the inevitable “appeal to authority“. Dr. Szasz is known not for his positive contributions to the field of psychiatry, but for his incoherent rants that fail to propose a viable alternative to current practice.

At that time, the victims of psychiatry were a forgotten minority group, warehoused under terrifying conditions in institutions around the world. Because of this, CCHR penned a Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights that has served as its guide for mental health reform.

There is a half-truth here. But only half. Szasz released his denialist book The Myth of Mental Illness in 1961. By 1969, Deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill was already well underway, with mixed results. On the bright side, seriously ill patients who had been “warehoused” were released. On the dark side, they were released to…well, nothing. There was no comprehensive policy of outpatient treatment. Many became homeless, and many ended up in jails. As far as I can tell from reading their materials, CCHR played no part in deinstitutionalization, and did nothing to help psychiatric patients when they were released. This is not surprising, since Scientology does not believe in mental illness as such, and most schizophrenics can’t afford “auditing“.

Since 1969, CCHR’s work has helped to save the lives of millions and prevented needless suffering for millions more.

That’s an unfounded assertion. I cannot find any evidence of this in their materials.

Many countries have now mandated informed consent for psychiatric treatment and the right to legal representation, advocacy, recourse and compensation for patients. In some countries, the use of psychosurgery and electroshock on children is banned.

And can you prove that CCHR had anything to do with that?

While CCHR does not provide medical or legal advice, it works closely with attorneys and medical doctors and supports medical, but not psychiatric, practices.
One of CCHRs primary concerns with psychiatry is its unscientific diagnostic system. Unlike medical diagnosis, psychiatrists categorize symptoms only, not disease. Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D., says, The notion of scientific validity, though not an act, is related to fraud. Validity refers to the extent to which something represents or measures what it purports to represent or measure. When diagnostic measures do not represent what they purport to represent, we say that the measures lack validity… The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association is notorious for low scientific validity.

Here, they name a problem, but not an alternative. There are many reasonably well-validated tools that we use to define and measure mental illness. That being said, our current understanding of psychiatry is limited in many ways. A wise blogger once wrote, “All medicine is a metaphor…ideally however you would want your metaphors to closely match what they purport to represent.” We have some very useful metaphors for psychiatric disease. What metaphors does CCHR have? Why don’t you see for yourself?

Understanding this fraudulent diagnostic premise, we can see why psychiatry and psychology, entrusted with billions of dollars to eradicate the problems of the mind, have created and perpetuated them. Their drug panaceas cause senseless acts of violence, suicide, sexual dysfunction, irreversible nervous system damage, hallucinations, apathy, irritability, anxiousness, psychosis and death. And with virtually unrestrained psychiatric drugging of so many of our schoolchildren, it is no surprise that the largest age group of murderers today are our 15-to-19-year-olds.

Oops! In the first sentence we jumped from “validity problems” to FRAUD! How do they support that leap? Well, apparently with more un-supported assertions. They enumerate problems supposedly caused by psychiatry, but give no evidence. Oh, and just for fun, they add an unfounded conclusion at the end (psychiatry is responsible for young people murdering? Are you sure?)

The final paragraphs try to assert more authority by claiming that many prominent professionals count themselves members of this august “commission”.

To add to their shame, CCHR and Scientology have a reputation for suing people who speak out against them. Thankfully, the U.S. has pretty good speech and press protections. Let’s use them.

According to Operation Clambake, it’s not a bad idea to say the following:All quotations of copyrighted material herein fall within Fair Use guidelines. Note: The Scientology organization is commonly referred to as the Church of Scientology. The reader should be aware that, in reality, global Scientology is a complex international legal structure of multiple corporations, some of which are nonprofit and some of which are not.

The terms “Scientology” and “Dianetics” are trademarks and service marks owned by Religious Technology Center (RTC), Los Angeles, California, USA. For a detailed explanation of Scientology’s copyrights, trademarks, and other legal issues involving the names and symbols used by the organizations collectively known as “Scientology” and “Dianetics,” see the Trademark Section of the Official Scientology Web Site.